Travel Blog

23 May

The Vancouver Opera – Behind the Scenes

Parvin Mirhady holds up a hanger with a number of pieces of costume jewelry used as clothing props in the Opera productions.

The following photo essay was contributed by Vancouver photographer Dave Roels (

Vancouver Opera’s General Director, James W. Wright gave an excellent slide show presentation to Vancouver AM Tourist Services Association members while touring the facilities at VO’s new location. In the past the VO had its space housed in a number of locations in the downtown core.

With the new move all its artistic and administrative operations are combined under one roof, in a building located near Commercial Drive. All staging and orchestra rehearsals, costumes and properties construction, set storage, box office and administrative activities will take place in the Vancouver Opera Centre, at 1945 McLean Avenue.

During the tour of the facilities the wardrobe department was alive and working. Parvin Mirhady, head of costumes gave an excellent talk on what it is that they do for the different productions in which the Opera is engaged.

We were then taken through the rest of the building and saw each department and WOW what a place. James Wright spoke of the energy and you could feel it as you went from one department to the other.

The Vancouver Opera is an active and supportive neighbor in the vibrant, diverse and culturally rich Clark Drive-Commercial Drive area. The company has opened its doors to the community and makes its music library and rehearsal and meeting spaces available to music, theater, dance and community groups.

“This move makes it possible for Vancouver Opera to offer to the immediate community, and to the broader community, some of the resources and considerable energy we can provide, “said Wright.

In the main rehearsal room they have built a wooden floor over the concrete to make it easier on the feet. Along one section of the rehearsal hall is a set of chairs. These chairs are for the neighborhood residents to come in and watch rehearsals. To me this is a win win; the neighbors get to see great talent at work and the artists practice with an audience watching. The best part of this is that it is free. You almost want to move into the neighborhood just to take advantage of the facilities.

These photos of the wardrobe department show the creativity behind the scenes :

Vancouver Opera General Director James H. Wright points to the large rehearsal room with a room set next to him.

Boxes items on a hand cart ready for storage until needed again.

Parvin Mirhady, Head of Costumes, answers a question as General Director, James H. Wright looks on in the costume department.

Some old costumes sketches in a corner in the costume department.

Old clippings of men’s suits and shirts and other older sketches on display in the costume department.

Anna Schiarretta works on a costume.

A tray of miscellaneous items on the work table in the costume area.

A table full of hand made props and character clothing on the racks against the wall. Anna Schiarretta (left) and Parvin Mirhady (right) go over some ideas to complete the prop while Amirea Jawad (top left) works on a blue costume.

One of the things you have to do running a department as Parvin Mirhady does is deal with phone calls from suppliers.

More sketches on the wall in the wardrobe department.

Amira Jawad uses a sewing machine to stitch the costume she is working on.

What would a wardrobe department be without a wall of thread.

When you see this size of the spools of thread you know there will be some serious sewing going on.

Amira Jawad uses an iron and an arm rest block to smooth out the material for the costume she is making.

I have always like the expression, “here’s your hat what’s your hurry.”

Lots of left over material when making costumes, and when you need a yard or two you do not have to run out to the fabric store.

Amy Jiltong Yang stretches out a large piece of material for a new costume.

Amy Jiltong Yang lays out a pattern on the material.

Amy Jiltong Yang cuts the purple fabric after doing her measurements.

Amy Jiltong Yang pins up a new pice of material over the purple she just cut on a mannequin.

Parvin Mirhady looks over a pice of material for a costume being made.

A number of clothing drawings that Parvin Mirhady has sketched out.

Parvin Mirhady holds three of her recent pattern designs which she drew.

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